EWU FACULTY Shelly Shaffer

Dr. Shelly Shaffer, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Literacy

Degrees Held:

  • Ph.D. in English Education – Arizona State University, 2015
  • M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction – University of Phoenix, 2002
  • B.A. in English – University of Arizona, 1998

Career Highlights:

  • K-12 Teacher, 2001-2015 (Secondary English, experience with both middle and high school)
  • Experience with teaching ELA in various contexts, including gifted education
  • National Writing Project fellow
  • Links to share:


  • Which classes do you teach online?

    EDUC 542: Literature Study in the Elementary and Middle School; EDUC 590: Critical and Social Literacies; EDUC 522: Transformation of Learning & Teaching

  • In what ways do you connect with online students?

    Canvas course management, including online discussions and other interactions; email; technology tools, including YouTube videos, Voicethread, Goodreads and others.

  • What do you want your students to take away from class?

    I want students to be able to incorporate literacy into their courses in realistic ways and consider the importance of developing critical literacy—as an educator of literacy and in their future students. In both courses that I teach online, the focus is on diversity and in helping students to develop lessons and activities that honor students' diversity and helps teachers to move beyond simple interpretations of literacy in the classroom.

  • What advice would you give to your online students?

    My best advice would be to stay organized, keep up with the assignments and readings, and try to participate as much as possible in the collaborative community in the course. I have worked hard to create interactive experiences in my courses, and in order for students to learn to their potential, each student should take ownership of the course activities. For example, Goodreads is a tool used in EDUC 542; I encourage students to use this book community in their real lives, and to track books as they read them even books that are not included in the course curriculum. By taking ownership of this tool, students create something that can have a lasting effect on their reading lives even after the course is complete.

  • What qualities make someone particularly successful as an educator?

    I think that educators must be open-minded. We need to always be learners in our lives and open to learning a new method or pedagogy that might be different from what we've been doing. To be successful as an educator, we also need to be collaborative. We cannot be islands, we need to work with our colleagues to create experiences for students that push them beyond what we could do alone. Educators also need to be willing to sacrifice. We may need to teach a text in ELA that might not be our personal favorite, but may appeal to the needs of our students and serve a larger purpose. We must put aside our personal preferences and choose to meet the needs of our students instead.

  • Why did you start teaching?

    I was always meant to be a teacher, from when I used to line up my dolls and teach them as a kid to when I got to college and realized I could make a difference in the lives of my students. I teach teachers and future teachers in my current job, and I feel like this is a great place for me to make a difference in the world. Each teacher and future teacher in my courses can take their learning into their classrooms and future classrooms, and the impact is manifested in their practices and pedagogy.

    I feel satisfied when my students learn concepts in my courses. When students in my K-12 classrooms learned to write a new way or developed a love for reading, it was the most rewarding experience. To this day, when students take what they've learned in class and internalize it or have an "aha" moment because of something that I shared or presented, I still get that feeling of satisfaction—knowing that I am truly making a change and a difference. I have always considered each student in my courses as an individual, and when they learn, that means that I have succeeded.

  • What is the one book you think everyone should read?

    There are too many books to list only one. I will read almost every book that's put in front of me. Check out my Goodreads profile for some of my recent reads:

  • Tell us something interesting about yourself that your students may not know.

    I am obsessed with English Bulldogs. My husband and I have several dogs at home, and I am "the crazy bulldog lady."

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